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Comment Re:The Onion had it right (Score 0) 109 109

As they say in Russian (a rough translation): saving those, who are drowning is up to those who are drowning. They also say: while you can hope that a god will help you, you should help yourself.

Basically there are enough people on the African continent to make it possible for those very people to figure out how to solve their own problems. I don't see African solutions to problems in Indonesia related to Avian Flu as an example.

Comment Re:When do I get to be a multinational corp? (Score 0) 295 295

Of-course people have these rights. You, as a person, have the right (meaning that you cannot be oppressed by government) to move out of a country and do your business in such a way as to minimise your taxes. Not having an entitlement to do that does not mean you do not, as a person, have the right (protection against government oppression).

Not being able to afford something does not mean you don't have a right to do it, having the right to do it does not mean you are also supposed to be given an entitlement to afford doing it.

Your lack of understanding of the concept of rights is not unique, most people don't get it.

Comment Re:When do I get to be a multinational corp? (Score 0) 295 295

That lack of global jurisdiction is used by both the rich and the multinational corps to skirt laws and taxation that are unfavorable to them in their home country.

- which is an extremely important right of people, the right not to be enslaved and kept in any particular country against their own will, the right to freedom of association, of private property, liberty and life.

Comment How? (Score 4, Insightful) 365 365

So, precisely how again do they suggest sites verify ages? It needs to at least be proof against a minor with an adult's "borrowed" credit card, and it can't require sites to violate the law. This isn't a technical problem here, it's completely independent of the technology. If these politicians want the problem solved, they need to spend some time thinking about how to solve the problem. And yes, "make someone else solve it" is a valid option but only if having the sites apply that solution by making the politicians the "someone else" is also a valid option.

Comment Compassion in exchange for rationality? (Score 0) 108 108

Compassion very often requires that rationality is disregarded and even thrown away. Also ideas of compassion are often used to play the mob and destroy individual human rights. Compassion is a very dangerous emotion that leads to conflicts and wars in real life. Maybe AI and robots should be instructed to follow a Constitution instead, that would define individuals as the highest form of life and individual rights as absolute (right not tone murdered by government, right not to be imprisoned by government, right not to be robbed by government). Then criminal code could be added (authority of justice system to isolate a violent individual to protect against murder, assault, rape, robbery).

Compassion will lead to conflict, class warfare, violence. Constitution and criminal code will lead to some form of peace. Be careful with compassion, it is used to justify most vile acts on this planet.

Comment Re:Major change? No. (Score 1) 265 265

Yeah, I'm thinking of the change from the Win95 Start menu to the Win7 one. Program Manager, however, acted pretty much as the Start button, you opened it and then navigated folders fairly logically (you wanted an application, you opened the Applications folder and looked there). The applications you used all the time you copied to the desktop so you'd have them at your fingertips. Which, I've noticed, is still how people handle common applications, with "copy it to the taskbar" a close second and the two "pin" options vying for a distant third.

And it still remains: even secretaries had no problem grokking how to work Win3.1's desktop and programs.

Comment Major change? No. (Score 0) 265 265

The total change from the Windows 3.1 Start button to the subsequent Start buttons was making the Start menu a 2-column menu, putting the contents of the former Programs menu in the left pane and putting the rest of the Start menu items in the right pane. That's it. Oh, and making the initial view not show all the Programs items but only a subset, with an extra item at the bottom to show everything in the same form as it was under the Programs menu.

As for Win3.1 being complicated, every secretary I knew managed to get a handle on it within a few days so it couldn't have been that complicated. The only people I know of who couldn't figure out Win3.1 are the ones who to this day need repeated reminders of how to get to anything that's not directly on their desktop, so methinks the problem doesn't lie in Windows.

Comment Re:Who knows best? (Score 3, Insightful) 132 132

Counter-argument: Obviously management knew much better than the engineers how to run the Space Shuttle program, so they were entirely right to ignore the engineers' warnings about how freezing temperatures would affect the SRB sealing rings on Challenger and how ice strikes would affect the leading edges of the wings on Columbia.

Comment Re:Hobby vs. profession (Score 1) 351 351

Every other business is subject to that same degree of government regulation, ie. the laws limiting their ability to disclaim liability and those warranties and requiring things like business licenses. I don't see any reason why software publishers should be subject to any less regulation. Beyond that, tort law's sufficed in most other fields so I don't see why it shouldn't suffice here.

There are, of course, exceptions. Firmware for medical devices, aircraft control software, that sort of thing where people's lives are placed directly at risk should be subject to a higher degree of regulation and standards for software just as it is for every other aspect. And it should be handled the same way, based on the judgement of long-time practitioners in the field. In other words we don't base the rules on what marketing executives think or hot-shot web-app programmers with less than 5 years working experience, we look to the people with 40+ years in the field who've seen (and had to clean up) all the messes and know what caused them and how to prevent them. Which, yes, is probably not going to result in rules the marketing execs like, but life's like that sometimes.

Comment Hobby vs. profession (Score 1) 351 351

I think we need to also educate people on the difference between software development as a hobby and as a profession.

If I just need to build a storage shed or garden sun-shelter for my backyard, I can build it to any standard of quality, or lack thereof, that I want. It can be completely wonky, as long as it works for me. But if I want to build storage sheds for other people, the rules change. I need to build them to at least a minimum standard of quality, people will expect the trim and paint and the like to not fall off or peel, the doors can't fall off the hinges if you push them wrong, that sort of thing. And if I don't build to those minimum standards I'm going to be held legally liable for the shortcomings.

The same thing applies to software development. Just because you can slap together a to-do list app that works for you, doesn't mean it's ready to market to others. One of the problems is that you can market it without facing any liability for poor quality, and the absolute maximum liability you may face is to have to refund the purchase price. There's no other field where that's the case. Besides education, IMO we need to remove the ability for software publishers to disclaim liability for damages and the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for purpose. Make it clear that when you move from writing quick apps for yourself or your friends to marketing your software to the public, you're moving into a realm where you're going to be required to meet certain minimum standards of quality whether you like it or not and you'd better be prepared for this.

Yes, this would hurt many software publishers. IMO they need hurt, because the quality of their work is far from what I'd call professional or even reasonable for what they advertise it as.

Comment Won't/can't work (Score 3, Insightful) 199 199

Their extension can't affect the recipient's end of things if the recipient isn't also running that extension. In that case nothing Dmail can do can prevent the recipient from saving the message, forwarding it or doing anything else with it. Dmail can play tricks with HTML e-mail by replacing the body of the e-mail with a dummy wrapper that fetches the message via HTTP from a Dmail server and they can use some Javascript tricks to try and block "Save as", but those are going to run into problems with anything that blocks remote content or disables Javascript in e-mail. Even if the recipient's using Gmail in Chrome that's going to be an issue considering how that sort of blocking's basic to blocking malware. And of course if the recipient's running a non-browser client using IMAP4, Dmail's completely out of luck.

As far as being able to restrict viewing to only the recipient, that's easy. Every standard mail client today supports it. The hard bit's getting the recipient to generate a public-key certificate and install it as a personal certificate and key in their e-mail client. Then you just encrypt the e-mail using their public key and send it as an S/MIME message, their mail client will automatically decrypt it for them. I could even make that work in web-mail with a browser extension that recognizes the message text block, grabs it and decrypts it and stuffs the results back in the text block for the user to see. The obvious advantages here are that a) you wouldn't need to use any particular service provider to send the mail and b) not even the service provider or e-mail servers would be able to see the cleartext. The hard part's the PKI, and really all that needs is an extension for the mail client to automate generation of a certificate and installation into the client like we have in browsers. Depending on the browser and OS that might be simplified by taking advantage of shared OS cryptography features.

I've kicked this idea around as a commercial possibility, but it all comes down to two basic problems:

  • If the messages are truly private it's nigh impossible to generate revenue by any means except annual subscriptions from users. Senders might pay, but recipients won't and that breaks the whole thing.
  • Controlling what happens after the message reaches the recipient's nigh-impossible. The best you can do is if you restrict recipients to a platform like mobile where they have to access messages through your app. There's still ways around the controls, but you can make it so the phone has to be rooted and then access to the secure credential storage obtained and that's not something that can be automated enough to be feasible for the average user to do. In an uncontrolled environment like a browser or a regular e-mail client? Forget it.

Comment Insane government (Score 1, Insightful) 483 483

reduce the country's reliance on nuclear power from 75% to 50% by 2025.

- ok, stupid but doable.

reducing the country's greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030, compared to the level in 1990.

- ok, by itself it does not mean anything, as it doesn't say how that is supposed to be done. But together with the first statement (reducing nuclear power) looks suspiciously contradictory.

The new law aims to eventually halve France's energy consumption by 2050 from the 2012 level.

- WHAT?????

Ok, unless the goal is to half the population and production by 2050 from the 2012 levels while simultaneously switching to non-nuclear power, that's one thing. But if the goal is also to reduce 'green house gas emissions'...

Explain this to me: half the energy consumption, reduce reliance on nuclear power and at the same time reduce green house emissions.

Unless the real goal there is to reduce population then I have a bridge to sell you.

I also may want a unicorn and a tooth fairy and I can even enact legislation about it but legislation that requires unicorns and tooth fairies to become available to me upon the request by the authorities cannot in fact magically produce unicorns and tooth fairies!

Comment DirectX/ActiveX not for the camera (Score 1) 134 134

Usually a requirement for DirectX or ActiveX is for the viewer software they provide, not the camera itself. Either their application uses DirectX to handle the graphics display, or the standard Web page the camera puts around the stream uses an ActiveX widget to display the stream. Usually if you can get the manual for the camera and take a look at the Web page it generates you can find the URL for the actual video stream and use that in any video software. A little more work will give you how to configure the camera for resolution and stream encoding and such to get exactly what you want.

UNIX is many things to many people, but it's never been everything to anybody.